THE TOP 5 PLACES I VISITED IN 2016
I love traveling and discovering new places, cultures and people. I’m one of those people that cannot stand staying at home for too long. Whether it’s getting around in the city with friends (or alone) or traveling abroad to other countries, the sensation of being on the run and having this constant desire to be anywhere but home fills me with satisfaction and a sense of fulfilling my dreams. That’s why I’ve decided to write down the top five favorite places that I went to in 2016, a year full of traveling and excitement for me.
5. Elbstrand, Övelgönne, Hamburg, Germany
I’ve always loved being around water and the feeling of being close to the ocean is one of the things that make Hamburg very special to me. The harbor is an amazing place to ponder at and gives the impression that you can do anything you want, that everything is possible, that you’re at the crossroad to the world out there. But what really makes me feel on ease and peaceful, is sitting on the Elbstrand in Övelgönne, a beautiful beach about 15 minutes by ferry from the Landungsbrücken (I guess you could also take the bus, but the ferry alone is definitely worth the trip), where people have barbecues in the summer, there’s small camp fires everywhere at night and watching the huge container ships docking into the harbor is something I will never get tired of. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a cruise ship like AIDA lingering in the river. There’s also several beach bars located on the Elbstrand, one of them the “Strandperle“, my personal favorite, with a really nice holiday flair. They sell amazing cakes and cocktails that make you feel like you’re somewhere in the Dominican Republic in a bikini and enjoying 40 degrees of hot, sunny weather, although it will probably be raining in Hamburg.
4. Boston Harbor, Boston, USA
When me and my friends took the bus to Boston, it was New Year’s Day and we’d just spent a night full of partying in New York City. Needless to say, we were completely out of it that day. Instead of experiencing the city as we had planned, we stayed at the hotel all day and night trying to gain back control over our lives. When we finally made it into the city the next day, we couldn’t believe how beautiful and relaxing the harbor was. It made us regret immediately that we hadn’t seized our time in Boston more. It was a beautiful and sunny, almost warm day and I remember how happy I felt when I was sitting at the dock, overlooking the ships and sparkling buildings of one of America’s oldest cities.
3. Washington Heights (Manhattan), New York City, US
I’ve been to New York countless times and I could write down a list of my favorite places in New York, but that would be an entire article. Obviously there’s a million things to see in the city that never sleeps. The reason why I’m listing Washington Heights, a small district in the very north of Manhattan, is because we rented an AirBnB there and when we arrived in the middle of the night, it was the creepiest neighborhood that I’ve ever been to. Washington Heights is the Hispanic district of Manhattan and at night, there’s people on the streets everywhere, blasting music out of their car speakers, sitting on the boardwalk with their children, drinking South American beer and probably smoking Marijuana. It smells horrible, rats run over your feet and fire hydrants are being cracked open and used to wash cars. I did not want to stay there and if I hadn’t been with a male person, I would have been scared as hell. But the next day, when the sun was blasting all over the city and we were full of energy and curiosity, all of a sudden it turned out to be a beautiful, bright and throbbing neighborhood. Everybody was nice to us and it felt like we were somewhere in Puerto Rico rather than in New York City. The music in the streets was relaxing to listen to now, the food was good and we just enjoyed walking around Washington Heights for hours. This is why I love NYC, it always surprises you and never is what it seems.
2. Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
This is probably the most touristy place listed in this article, but as a matter of fact, the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) IS one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and definitely a must-see when you’re in Paris. The basilica itself is a wonderfully structured church, but the real highlight is the view from the steps in front of it, from where you can oversee the whole city of Paris. The Sacre Coeur is on top of the “Montmartre“ and it’s the highest view in Paris right after the Eiffel Tower. Also, you don’t have to wait in line for hours as with all the other attractions in Paris and there’s other, less touristy parts on Montmartre that you can walk through that are very French and Paris-esque.
1. Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, USA
You might have noticed that water is kind of a theme here. But Virginia Beach is definitely where I left my heart. It’s a 500.000 people city in the very South of Virginia, about a half an hour ride to the North Carolina border. The oceanfront is a five mile section stretching along the beach all the way from 80th to 1st street, including a boardwalk with several restaurants, beach bars and countless sky-high hotels. In summer Virginia Beach is crowded with tourists, the streets are packed and you have to drive 30 minutes outside to find a spot at the beach and if you’re unlucky (like me), in a car with no air-conditioning, trying not to pass out as 35 degrees Celsius (or whatever else 95 to 100 Fahrenheit are) that hit you without mercy. It sucks, it really does. But I put up with it anyways, because the Oceanfront has something very special about it that just makes me wanna dance and write songs about. You won’t care about the masses of people. You won’t care about the endless heat. You won’t care about loud-as-hell military jets tearing up the air every two minutes (FYI America’s biggest Naval station is in Norfolk next door). All you care about is your feet in the sand and the breathtaking view, the sunrises and the sunsets and a chilled red cup of beer in your hand, not even giving a damn whether a cop sees you or not. Virginia Beach – “Living the Life”. In Winter, VB is amazing. The beach is empty and the only people you see out on the streets are locals. People take their dogs out on the coast and the wind is chilly, but not as cold as to where you couldn’t walk outside without a jacket. It doesn’t really get cold in Virginia Beach until February and during Christmas time, instead of Christmas Markets and snow, they turn the boardwalk into a drive-thru show, where you can take your car along the beach and watch Holiday Lights that are stuck into the sand, sparkle, while a radio station blasts Christmas songs. Virginia’s state slogan says: “Virginia Is For Lovers“ and I can’t think of any other place where this is more accurate than in Virginia Beach. Even if the slogan stares back at you from the license plate in front of you while you’re stuck in traffic on the Interstate for hours. Every day.